DWS chief exec promises to double corporate dept

Denton Wilde Sapte (DWS) chief executive Howard Morris has vowed to double the turnover and headcount of the London corporate department over the next five years.


Denton Wilde Sapte (DWS) chief executive Howard Morris has vowed to double the turnover and headcount of the London corporate department over the next five years.

In a dramatic plan agreed by the firm’s executive committee last Wednesday (12 April), the firm plans to increase the number of partners from 12 to 25, and the number of associates from 35 to 60.

Morris told The Lawyer: “We have one of the largest banking teams in the City and we want corporate to be the same engine for the firm that banking is.

“If we’re doubling the size of the practice, I expect turnover to double too.”

Global corporate turnover was £39m in 2004-05.

The executive committee has allowed five years for it to achieve its target, but Morris thinks it will only take three.

The firm plans to grow the London corporate team through a mixture of internal promotions and lateral hires. Morris would also like to see the firm move into the private equity arena, but admits that the firm’s recent profitability has “not allowed us to attract private equity people” – a situation he believes will change soon.

Profit per equity partner fell to £279,000 in the 2004-05 financial year, but the firm is expecting it to bounce back up to £360,000 this year.

A few years ago, DWS realigned it practice to focus along four sector lines, a move that Morris says has already invigorated the corporate group. He points to its work on the $200m (£114.2m) IPO of KazakhGold and on Total’s acquisition of ExxonMobil’s assets in 14 African countries.